Friday, 15 July 2011

Monogrammed French Linen Draps

During these hot summer days, when nights hardly cool down,
 there  is nothing more pleasing than to sleep under beautiful old linen.
Linen sheets breathe, and are as comfortable as they are beautiful.
A light weight cool feeling to awaken refreshed!

French Linen....

...add a touch of luxury to your beds

Lavishly embroidered with lovely, and often quite large and elaborate, monograms

 Antique French Linen Drap's of high quality are mainly in two types:
fil de lin, which is a fine linen made of high thread-count,
and lin, a regular weight of linen.
The normal size is approx. from 90" wide by 130" long - plus/minus,
suitable for a Queen size or even a King size bed.

The linens in fine fil de lin are lighter in weight than the ones of pure linen and,
the higher the thread count, the finer the linen, the lighter the weight.
 The pure linen ones the weight is always a sign of good quality;
the heavier the higher the quality.
An over- or top-sheet is called in French a Drap
The word Drap comes from  "a draper"  which means draping.

fil de lin lin - different weaves - different texture - different colors - different weight


image Cote Sud 2005



 Monogrammed Linen:

The marking, or monogramming, of linen is rooted in the patterns
and culture of everyday life over several centuries.

Alphabet published in  La mode Illustrée No50, 15 December 1867

Monogrammed pieces initially represented only the bride's name
as the groom may not have been known.
As that information became apparent the monogram might have taken many forms,
including a combination of the Groom's and Bride's names.

An exceptional embroidery of high finesse,
finely conceived and executed, untold hours of painstaking embroidery work.
130" long by 96,5" wide, embroidery: 17" by 9"
Ca. 1880-1900

  Heavy but fine pure linen in a beautiful natural light stone gray tone color,
in the exceptional size of 142" long by 90,5" wide, weight: 2,5 Kg.
With a large monogram of the size of 10" by 11", around 1900

...and superb embroidery in pure white silk



This diamond-shaped design is typical for the "Belle epoque" - around 1900
fil de lin,  monogram and embroidery size: 8,5" by 7,5"

light oatmeal color
Around 1900, size of embroidery 10,5" by 9,5"

Various conventions were accepted at different times and were often supported
by etiquette books and embroidery tutorials found in every form
of written material from catalogs to newspapers.

Alphabet for monogram in plumetis for lingerie, 1930

fil de lin in pure withe "avec retour"
Update:  Sold 


Monogram size 9" by 5,5"


 ART DECO alphabet published in "Mon Ouvrage" in the 1930's

An exceptional set of a Drap and two pillow shams,
made of the finest and very high thread-count linen - fil de lin,
a superb quality and in excellent, unused, condition.
 Art Deco - 1930's

This Drap comes in a very large size of 142" long by 94,5" wide, in a light weight of 1200 grams,
and with a triple monogram.

Triple monograms:
The European tradition is that the central letter is the husband's initial,
the side letters are the first name initials of husband and wife.
But there are exceptions:
A wife could monogram her personal things using a triple monogram,
with the initials of her first name, maiden name and husband's name.

"avec retour".....

.....and in its original ivory color

One of the most finest and elegant linens you could think about!

All of genuine linen Draps, as well as pillow shams,
are embroidered with  Anglais, de bourdon (satin stitch dots or squares),
de plumetis - "point de bourdon", or other interesting hand stitches,
and most also have rows of  jour, jour de venise, or drawn work, and/or cutwork.
Some of it "avec retour",
which means that the embroidery travels up the sides of the sheet for approx. 30"-40"


My linens come from family linen Armoires,
and are reminiscent of a life filled with fine things,
and young girls 'embroidering their trousseaus'.

From the youngest age the bride-to-be prepared and often herself created her trousseau
without yet knowing to whom she would one day be married.
The word "trousseau"comes from the ancient French word "trouser", to wrap as in a package.
In German: "Aussteuer" (consisting mainly of household linen)
The trousseau was, in effect, the package of linens that the young bride brought
with her upon leaving her family home.
She embroidered her initials on her bedclothes,
and on her finest linens she always left a space for those of her future husband
as she would not yet have known what initials these would be.  (1)

   'Drap de marriage'  in  fil de lin  with a superb scalloped border,
each scallop decorated with floral motifs. Pure white and from the 19th cent!!ury,
'avec retour', a return of 36" on each side...

SOLD - Thank you!

 .....and a large monogram in the size of 11" x 6", weight 1,6 Kg

The trousseau was often comprised of numerous sheets (twelve was common for a wealthy family),
numerous dish and hand towels, napkins and tablecloths patiently and meticulously embroidered.



This 'Queen size' Drap in linen still retains its original natural color which means that it was never bleached.
88" wide by 122" long, 'avec retour' of 33", weight: 2,3 Kg,
around 1900

a wonderful and very pleasing oatmeal color


19th century fil de lin with center seam
 and a large monogram embroidered in the early 20th century
see also here:  Old Linen and Lavender


Searching for an exact monogram can be a fun (or even frustrating!) adventure.
But as you can see - or as you have noticed during reading this post or looking at the images,
the letter combinations were quite varied,
so try not to limit yourself to a rigid pattern.
You will fall in love with pieces just because of their beauty.

Alphabet Monogram published "La Mode Illustrée", Paris 1865


Related beautiful posts by Trish from Trouvais:


 'Linen to dye for'...


and here

my own



Linen is a remarkably versatile fabric which comes in a great variety of textures.
It is a beautiful, highly absorbent and also durable fabric,
having at least two to three times the strength of cotton.
Linen is much smoother and more lustrous than cotton and,
presenting a less "woolly" surface, it does not soil so readily,
nor absorb and retain moisture so freely, as the more spongy cotton.

People who have tried linen sheets claim
that they have a much more peaceful and sound sleep in linen than in cotton.

French Fine Linen Draps
elegant - fresh - crisp and soft - cool
just simply a dream!

Should you see anything you like,
please send me an email for further information.

Best wishes for a wonderful summer
with sunny days, cool and restful nights!


  1. OH MY WORD!!!!!!!! The beauty here is endless. My heart started beating a little faster the more I scrolled down! Is there anything prettier than monograms AND linen???? Truly spectacular!!!

  2. My goodness, another wonderful post full of beautiful pictures and information.
    I really think I need to book your gite and come shopping...
    Julie x

  3. Good idea, Julie.
    You are welcome!
    Thanks a lot for your comment.

  4. Tina from 'the enchanted home':
    Merci beaucoup for your lovely comment! Yes, there is just something special with good old linen, the feel, the history, the beauty.....

  5. Karin,

    I have never owned linen sheets. (My bad!)

    Did I spy an AB monogram?? #24?? As the saying goes, can you please give me the deets?

  6. Karin, your linens are beautiful!!! We love white linens and monogramed linens. Do you ship to the U.S.? XO Angela and Renee

  7. Angela and Renee, thank you very much for your comment and yes, I ship to the U.S.

  8. Exquisite sheets very well discovered and wonderful to see.

  9. hello karin
    i read your comment on acquired objects about antiquing furniture and thought 'i must visit'. i am so happy that i did, your posts are rich in detail and inspirational. will delve further. adding you to my blogroll immediately

  10. Karin, this is a totally beautiful post giving so much information. I have collected linens all my life (from my grandmother's insistence), which I hope to pass on to my daughter someday. I enjoy them so very much. Of course, my collection doesn't even come close to yours. I am amazed with the beauty of your photography of these pieces, as well as the fact that you treasure them completely. xx's

  11. Hi Karin, Just wonderful your blog,
    Love the old sheets like that, I use them daily, after they are washed my mom rinses them in cold starch and hangs them on the drying line outside. You could spend extra hours in bed just for this.
    Can't wait to go over every posting on your blog, first getting the container out.
    Have a great day,

  12. Hi Karin,, You really have some rare beauties here. I have a reasonable collection of old French sheets so I know how unusual it is to come across this quality.
    Beautiful post

  13. Wow! I 'll take one of each, please!

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  15. Thank you all so much for your input and words of advice. I was a little overwhelmed with all the choices out there. I've read quite a bit of information on the internet and felt that it would be best to get first hand knowledge from those that actually use the machines . I've been to a couple of stores and gotten a few demonstrations. Because of all of your help, I was able to ask the right questions. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And Thank You Karen for doing the post. :-)

  16. This article is very informative I've read this article for improving my embroidery skill and it's really worth it thanks for posting. Digitize your monogram with professionalism by using our monogram digitizing service.